- 5 Days
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Summary : The Galapagos Islands are considered one of the most spectacular and pristine National Parks in the world. Visitors delight in the abundant, unusual, and surprisingly approachable wildlife--from Galapagos giant tortoises to playful sea lions to the fascinating blue-footed boobies.
We strongly recommend two pre-cruise nights and one post-cruise night in Quito or Guayaquil. Please inquire about adding these or other services to your trip.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Hiking, Snorkeling
$999,999,999 to $0
Arrive Baltra Island by plane and transfer to the dock to board the Santa Cruz. Enjoy a welcome, briefing and lunch before exploring more of Santa Cruz.
After WWII, US military barges were beached and abandoned at Las Bachas. Locals referred to the beach as the barges beach, a name that morphed to “bachas.” Today it is an important nesting area for the east Pacific green sea turtle. Located on the north shore of Santa Cruz Island, it is a glorious white beach with several brackish lagoons only a few steps away from the sea. These lagoons are the feeding grounds of various wading birds, from stilts to flamingos.
After breakfast, enjoy a coastal exploration along the impressive cliffs of Buccaneer’s Cove. Learn about the history of Santiago Island, its relevance for the whalers, pirates and early researchers, including Darwin’s epic voyage in 1835, and the conservation projects aimed at eradicating feral species (a fence stretched along the rocky outcrop is visible to save native plants from the once existing enormous goat population). Today the island is free of feral goats, and the cove is home to a large number of marine birds, sea lions, and inter-tidal organisms. Enjoy fantastic natural formations such as the “Elephant Rock,” “The Bishop” and an impressive natural cave. This is a great site for snorkeling too!
Enjoy a mid-length walk where most of the landscape is tuff-stone layers and lava flows. This is a great opportunity to see land and marine birds. At low tide, marine iguanas graze upon the algae beds and there is a colony of fur-sea lions. Enjoy an opportunity for snorkeling and swimming from the beach after the walk.
Disembark at Rábida Island (wet landing) on a red-colored beach, due to the unusually high content of iron in the volcanic material. A gratifying stroll along the beach of this small island (1.9 square miles) allows the observation of a large colony of sea lions, marine iguanas, mockingbirds, yellow warblers and several species of Darwin’s finches. Very close to the beach, hidden behind a strip of green saltbush, is a salt pond where at times greater flamingos migrate. This is a great place to snorkel from the beach, both for beginners, as well as for experienced snorkelers, due to the unique combination of underwater species and submarine landscapes. During navigation to the next island, dolphins are often spotted.
Disembark at Bartolomé Island for a hike to the summit. This is a steep climb aided by a wooden staircase with handrails; the view from the top is worth the effort. Go on a dinghy ride around colossal Pinnacle Rock, then enjoy the beach and some snorkeling, possibly with Galápagos penguins, or else a ride in the glass-bottom boat for great views of the underwater world.
The morning starts with a very interesting panga ride along the cliffs before disembarking (dry landing) on rocks for a steep climb (90 feet) up stairs. Once at the top of the stairs, the land is flat, allowing for a stimulating walk of about a mile to the other side of this small island, observing large colonies of masked boobies, frigate birds and storm petrels. Those not wishing to disembark can enjoy a longer panga ride along the cliffs (depending on weather conditions).
In the afternoon, make a wet landing for an easy stroll observing thousands of birds, mainly frigate birds, red-footed and masked boobies, gulls, herons, finches and mockingbirds. There is an optional walk over sharp lava and uneven terrain for dramatic views, or you can return to the beach to enjoy swimming and snorkeling at this beautiful natural harbor.
After breakfast, there is an optional departure to see the breeding program of giant tortoises at Cerro Colorado. Learn about his endangered species, and its promising recovery. This site is 45 minutes by bus, on the south shore of San Cristóbal Island. Return to town and transfer to the airport to take the flight back to the mainland.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes. Read this itinerary as a guide only, as the exact route and the wildlife you encounter may vary.
Shared transfer from main hotels in Quito (Casa Gangotena, Hilton Colon, Swissôtel, Marriott, Dann Carlton) and in Guayaquil (Hilton Colon, Oro Verde, Hampton Inn, Sheraton) to airport for flights to/from Galapagos; cabin accommodations aboard ship; all meals aboard ship; all shore activities and excursions; guide and lecture services; sea kayaks; glass-bottom boat outings; snorkeling gear; luggage handling; medical care on board (but not the cost of medication); taxes and transfers on the island. For Darwin Elite cabins only (Boat Deck Standard Plus, Superior, Junior Suite and Master Suite): wine and beer at dinner; use of VIP lounge at departure airport in the Galapagos Islands; explorers’ kit, expedition CD; Internet access in select areas; special edition take-home coffee table book; and wetsuit rental. Subject to change without notice.
Hotel nights before/after cruise; transfers in Quito or Guayaquil; Galapagos National Park entrance fee, subject to change without notice; Galapagos Transit Card; international airfare; airfare to/from Galapagos Islands; wet suit rental; Internet; alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages; gifts and personal items; passport expenses; traveler's insurance; laundry service; gratuities to ship staff and crew are left to the discretion of the passenger; fuel surcharge may apply.
Airfare between Quito/Guayaquil and the Galapagos Islands:
The flights between mainland Ecuador (Quito or Guayaquil) and the Galapagos Islands are an additional cost. To secure your seats on often overbooked flights, ExpeditionTrips must reserve these flights for you at the time of cruise booking. Approximate cost (including service fee): $450-$600 per adult; $250-$325 per child under 12 (copy of passport required).